What do you think is the best Valentine gift to let someone know you love them? Flowers? Chocolate? Jewelry? A wise person once said, "The best way to spell love is T.I.M.E." In today's hustle and bustle, it is hard to pin down time for those we love best. A quote from imom challenged me, "Healthy parents don’t find family time, they make time."
As I was brainstorming how to make time with my kiddos, I remembered three of my friends who gave neat Christmas gifts this year centered around time together! I thought, "We could easily use their ideas for Valentine's Day gifts!"
Below you'll find their explanation of why they did their activity and how. "The Why" will touch a familiar chord in your own precious heart. "The How" will make your job easy. Choosing which one you want to implement will be the hard part. These ideas could easily be used in any relationship you want to build and strengthen.
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Adventure Box - by Darlene Howell Waller.
The Why - If we looked back on our years, we don't remember the gifts that were given or WHO gave them. But for me, time spent together are some of my sweetest childhood memories. I remember the family vacations, the Saturday trips to the grocery store, the lake and camping adventures with my family, the fun we had in the tree house that my dad built for me. But I couldn't tell you a single gift that was a "thing" that I remember receiving.
I love my grandchildren so much. One day I will be gone. I want them to have wonderful memories of their time spent with me, their Nonna. They have every toy imaginable! I just want to give them the gift of my time.
The How - Every year I try to figure out how to creatively give gift cards. This year, I found some ideas on Pinterest.
- I found a husband's letter he wrote as a gift to his wife. I just changed some words. This introduced me to the idea of "a monthly adventure for the year".
- I went to Hobby Lobby to purchase a shoe box, stickers and envelopes, but then I saw this trunk!! It was perfect!
- I found stickers that said, "Adventure Awaits". I loved the idea!
- Every month's envelope has a different experience that is pre-planned and pre-paid (mostly). The gift cards are places we go anyway: Movies, picnics, laser tag, go carts, the beach and Redneck Island, Christmas lights, pumpkin patch...etc.....I added some extra adventures, like horseback riding that I think they will absolutely love. (I can't believe I hadn't thought of that sooner.)
- We will take pictures at every outing and those pictures will go back into this box. In years to come they will have a trunk full of memories with their Nonna to fondly look back on.
Date Cards - by Denise Slater
The Why - A few years ago, my husband and I wanted to find a way to give more individual time to our kids. We live multiple states away from our families. This means we do most everything as a family, except for our date nights when we pay for a sitter. We have triplet boys, so we don’t have different times to spend when a younger child is napping, or an older child is in school. To solve this, we came up with “date cards”. They are given to them in their stockings. It is always one of their favorite gifts!
We currently give them three “dates with Daddy”, three “dates with Mommy”, and three “stay up late” cards to be used for the next year. The categories for this year are “Kid’s Choice”, “Parent’s Choice” and “Both Choose”.
The How - The first year we gave choices on the cards for different dates. The next year we gave less specific choices because we learned that some are weather related. The third year we learned to give date ranges on the cards to keep us accountable.
We have done different activities such as an escape room, the movies, disk golf, hiking, Skyzone, Chuck-e-Cheese, painting party, crafting, etc. (My husband now has a “no Chuck-e-Cheese clause for his dates. Haha!) Our “stay up late” cards are just that. Individually they get to stay up 30 min later than their brothers and pick something to do with both Daddy and Mommy. Most times it ends up being a board game or card game.
We have found that three dates per child, per parent works best for us. That is 18 different times a year that we schedule to go out, while the other two kids and parent are home. This would work easier for those parents of two kids to two dates in one night. While my parents were visiting from Michigan this past spring, we were able to do three dates in three nights while they had individual time with each of our kids also!
This has been an amazing experience to spend individual time with our boys. Giving them our undivided attention, without them competing with their brothers, brings out different sides to them. Our quiet child talks nonstop. Our boisterous child tends to be more reflective. Our creative child shows more insight. We are giving them the gift of time.
Our boys are tweens. Oh, that is hard to write the word “tween”! We are praying that these individual times invested will help us roll easier into the teen years to spend time with each of our boys. This gift of individual time has not only been great for our boys, but a blessing for my husband and me. I hope this will be a blessing to your family.
A Day to Remember - by Lesley Guilaran
The Why - The idea for our family Christmas gift ironically began in the toy aisle at Target. It was a hot August day and I remarked to my husband that this was the time of year I started to look for gifts for the kids for Christmas, since Target clearanced toys in August. He looked at me and said, “I think I’m done getting them toys for Christmas. Every year they open them, play with them for a little bit, and then they are finished. It’s just silly.” Inside, my heart was rejoicing! I had been wanting to give our kids experiences as gifts for awhile, so we began talking about that idea on that day.
At first, we thought of some grand plan to go to a different city, almost like a mini-vacation. However, our oldest son has autism, and this past fall was a difficult season. Traveling to another city seemed to be a bit too much for him to handle, so we sat on the idea for a few months.
About three weeks before Christmas, I was listening to a blog post from “The Lazy Genius”. She was discussing this very topic and the idea of giving experiences, like a family movie box filled with pajamas, special snacks, and a movie for the family to watch together. I thought, “YES!!!” This is the family gift I have been looking for! Not some grand plan, but something simple; creating a beautiful memory out of something not so fancy.
One very important lesson that autism has taught our family, is to see the beautiful in the ordinary.
So, ideas began churning in my head, and the one we landed on was to have a day in the small city we live in with our family.
The How - Each person in the family could pick one place they wanted to go. We would pile in the car and go to each place one afternoon. The funny thing was, we didn’t really go anywhere new! I chose the Old Town Spaghetti Store, my youngest chose SkyZone, my oldest chose The Green Frog Cafe (for coffee, of course!), and my husband chose to watch the sunset from a high point in our city, which just happens to be the Dairy Queen parking lot overlooking Wal-Mart!
We made a schedule for my oldest so he could handle all the transitions and off we went! At the end of the day, everyone said their favorite part was drinking our coffee or eating ice cream (depending on what they chose) and watching the sunset in the car. Our youngest LOVED it and said, “Can we do this again next year, Mom?” It was really the best; we all felt it.
The gift of time is the best gift we could have given our kids. We have all loved it. They have not missed the tangible gifts at all, and honestly, that makes my Momma heart full!
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, lively laughter, deep talks and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.